DEN BALLONG tops 49HrFest

Last night’s presentation of the Illini Film & Video club’s 49 Hour Film Competition ran the gamut from the sublime to the silly and the surreal, entertaining more than 100 students within the Pine Lounge of the Ilini Union on the University of Illinois‘ Urbana campus. Having the eponymous time frame as part of the challenge, along with three specific prompts – a handful of balloons, the line of dialogue “It went too far,” and an extreme close-up shot – given them by club leaders, the teams went to work beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 7. Nine teams handed in completed films by the 49th hour.

At the end of the show, hosted by Mia Conner and Julia Pollack, UIUC cinema studies professors and competition judges Robert Baird, Robert Rushing, and Billy Vermillion awarded the top prize to DER BALLONG by “Team Awesome,” comprised of Victor Campos, Ryan Hagan, Brett Tucker, and C-U Confidential cover guy Michael Bach. In their short, balloons stand in for human actors in an archetypal “quest” story of a young lad’s encounter with fate and Death.

Conner and Pollack then announced that TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT by “Boys Night In,” a.k.a. Marc Nardoni and Pat Klacza, had won the Audience Choice award. In this wry comic bit, a student finds the Eddie Money song inexplicably stuck in his head, leading towards a cheeky parable about owning up to one’s MP3 downloading habits. Both teams won an iPod, free rentals from That’s Rentertainment in Champaign, and a DVD copy of THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS VS. A MUMMY for their efforts.

Other entries included: THE LIFE OF BOB, about a balloon-headed college slacker; CRIMSON RED, about one last criminal act gone wrong; THE VON TROTTER PROJECT, about the travails on the set of a European auteur’s frisky flick; BROWN ASPHALT, about a student hopped up on too much coffee; EDNA BALLOONHANDS, a mock trailer take-off of the Tim Burton classic; THANKS FOR THE SHITTY CAMERA, a collage of late-night college debauchery; and BLACK BALLOON, a classy nonsequitur piece about one young man’s encounter with ancient texts and the University library.

According to the 49 Hour festival program, all this year’s entries will be available for viewing after Friday, November 21, at the Illini Film & Video Web site.

~ Jason Pankoke

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